Dec 01, 2018 by Gary Seidler
blog

As a recovering journalist, publisher, observer, and commentator, I am struck by the enormity of current developments in the world of addiction.

We can all agree that chemical and behavioral addictions can no longer be swept under the rug. We are now more aware of the elephant in the room. The good news is that the stigma of addiction is slowly but surely lifting.

Like the insurance ad says, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
We come to the end of a tumultuous year with a host of critical issues to contemplate.

Disease

Most people have come to understand that addiction is a disease—a serious illness that not only befalls 20.1 million people in the US (SAMHSA, 2016), but directly affects millions of families and extended families.

Trauma

We have also come to understand that trauma—most often unresolved childhood trauma—is the underlying cause of adults using substances or behaviors (or both) to seek relief from emotional and/or physical pain. Once we consider the societal causes of addiction, we can better understand where Canadian physician and author Gabor Maté is coming from when he says, “Don’t ask the question ‘why the addiction,’ but ‘why the pain?’” (Shallow, 2014).

There have certainly been shifting views, attitudes, and beliefs as well.

Abstinence/Twelve Steps

While most might argue that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its descendants remain the most effective way to achieve long-lasting sobriety, we have come to accept that AA is not the only way forward. A few short years ago, it was sacrilegious to suggest that drugs might be part of addiction treatment, whereas today more and more professionals recognize that medication-assisted therapy often needs to be a critical component of integrative treatment.

Opioids

In October 2018, Congress passed a series of bills to confront the nation’s opioid epidemic—a crisis that threatens communities from coast to coast (Itkowitz, 2018). Lawmakers describe the legislation as “. . . a big breakthrough that will boost access to addiction treatment and many other interventions to mitigate the current epidemic, from law enforcement efforts against illicit drugs to combatting over prescription of opioids” (Lopez, 2018). This is a massive undertaking that needs to be supported by ongoing research, education, and prevention.

Cannabis

With ten states and Washington, DC now legalizing marijuana for recreational use and thirty-three states legalizing medical marijuana (Berke, 2018), it is just matter of time before the entire country is marijuana friendly like our neighbors to the north. There is just too much money at stake. While some of the population will likely not suffer any serious negative consequences from cannabis use, we can be sure that a significant number of vulnerable young brains will be scrambled in the mix.

Alcoholism

While the airwaves rightly draw constant attention to the opioid epidemic, we tend to forget that alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the US (NIDA, 2015). Alcoholism affects people from all walks of life and continues to be one of the nation’s most preventable causes of death, ranking third behind tobacco and a poor diet/sedentary lifestyle (NIAAA, 2018). Approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths each year, according to 2018 statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Meanwhile, the addiction treatment industry continues to grow amid constant flux and questioning of treatment outcomes. Integrative approaches are au courant and intensive outpatient programs show more promise. Thankfully, bad actors in the industry are being exposed and providers are adopting better ethical standards. These are challenging times for the treatment industry as a whole and winds of change are in the air.

Perhaps the best news of all is in the burgeoning recovery movement, which has grown into a sizable army of folks in recovery banding together via social media, online publications, biographies, blogs, film festivals, walks, sober cafes, sober coaching, and more.
We are definitely out of the closet and that is a good thing.

 

References

Berke, J. (2018). Here’s where you can legally consume marijuana in the US in 2018. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/where-can-you-can-legally-
smoke-weed-2018-1

Itkowitz, C. (2018). Senate easily passes sweeping opioids legislation, sending to President Trump. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/03/senate-is-poised-send-sweeping-opioids-legislation-president-trump/?utm_term=.5a6cece70984

Lopez, G. (2018). Congress is on the verge of a bipartisan opioid package, but
experts have big concerns. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/9/12/17847358/ enate-opioid-crisis-response-act

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (2018). Alcohol facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2015). Nationwide trends: Drug facts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends

Shallow, P. (2014). #14Days: A cry for compassion in treating addiction. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/14-days-compassion-addiction-recovery-gabor-mate-
vicky-dulai/

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.pdf

Relevant Subjects

Ask the LifeQuake Doctor

Submitted by Toni Galardi on fri, 12/01/2018

Dear Dr. Galardi, I’m a forty-seven-year-old recovering alcoholic. I’ve been in sustained recovery for five years. I go to AA meetings regularly, but lately I’ve been feeling that something’s missing. I know there is such a thing as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but is that the same thing as a “thought addiction”? I notice that I sometimes have negative thoughts about people when I’m feeling bad about my life or myself, so I’m wondering: Is negative thinking about others is a form of...

Read More...

Lessons Learned from Clients in Co-Occurring Recovery Groups

Submitted by Dennis C. Daley on fri, 12/01/2018

For many years I conducted early recovery groups as a guest presenter in multiple inpatient, residential, and/or ambulatory treatment programs for clients with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders (CODs). I also conducted recovery and/or focus groups at a therapeutic community program in the inner city, and for incarcerated adolescents or adults with CODs. I met regularly with clients to find out what their concerns were related to recovery from CODs, what they found helpful in...

Read More...

The Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh

Submitted by John Newport on fri, 12/01/2018

This column will attempt to illuminate practical applications of the teachings of my favorite mentor, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk whom in my opinion is the foremost contemporary proponent of application of basic Buddhist precepts in our daily lives. While Thay (as he is known by his followers) is a leading practitioner of Zen Buddhism, his approach to helping us enrich our lives and the lives of those around us is extremely inclusive. Indeed, his followers include countless numbers of...

Read More...

Simple Solutions or Real Results

Submitted by Gerald Shulman on fri, 12/01/2018

In a previous column (April 2018), I wrote about the genesis of the opioid crisis. While possibly informative, it provided little information about potential solutions currently being offered and identifying those whose major effect is more to make people feel good about doing something, whether effective or not. One of the points I made in the column was that the genesis of the current opioid crisis and its solutions are multifactorial. However, we continue to look for simple solutions while...

Read More...

Lessons Learned from Clients in Co-Occurring Recovery Groups

Submitted by Dennis C. Daley on fri, 12/01/2018

For many years I conducted early recovery groups as a guest presenter in multiple inpatient, residential, and/or ambulatory treatment programs for clients with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders (CODs). I also conducted recovery and/or focus groups at a therapeutic community program in the inner city, and for incarcerated adolescents or adults with CODs. I met regularly with clients to find out what their concerns were related to recovery from CODs, what they found helpful in...

Read More...

Passing the Bar: Mobilizing Lawyers to Create a Healthier Profession

Submitted by Bob Carlson on fri, 12/01/2018

Lawyers learn stress early. They stress through three years of law school, they stress preparing for and taking the bar exam, and they stress at highly competitive jobs in law firms, corporations, and government. Stress is often part of the legal profession’s culture. So perhaps it is no surprise that studies show a substantial proportion of lawyers and law students suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs), depression, and anxiety at far higher rates than the general public and even other...

Read More...

Ask the LifeQuake Doctor

Submitted by Toni Galardi on fri, 12/01/2018

Dear Dr. Galardi, I’m a forty-seven-year-old recovering alcoholic. I’ve been in sustained recovery for five years. I go to AA meetings regularly, but lately I’ve been feeling that something’s missing. I know there is such a thing as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but is that the same thing as a “thought addiction”? I notice that I sometimes have negative thoughts about people when I’m feeling bad about my life or myself, so I’m wondering: Is negative thinking about others is a form of...

Read More...

Simple Solutions or Real Results

Submitted by Gerald Shulman on fri, 12/01/2018

In a previous column (April 2018), I wrote about the genesis of the opioid crisis. While possibly informative, it provided little information about potential solutions currently being offered and identifying those whose major effect is more to make people feel good about doing something, whether effective or not. One of the points I made in the column was that the genesis of the current opioid crisis and its solutions are multifactorial. However, we continue to look for simple solutions while...

Read More...

Lessons Learned from Clients in Co-Occurring Recovery Groups

Submitted by Dennis C. Daley on fri, 12/01/2018

For many years I conducted early recovery groups as a guest presenter in multiple inpatient, residential, and/or ambulatory treatment programs for clients with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders (CODs). I also conducted recovery and/or focus groups at a therapeutic community program in the inner city, and for incarcerated adolescents or adults with CODs. I met regularly with clients to find out what their concerns were related to recovery from CODs, what they found helpful in...

Read More...

No Related Result

Is There an End in Sight for the “Golden Age” of Rogue Treatment Profiteers?

Submitted by Gary Seidler on fri, 10/01/2018

We are all familiar with the horrific stats: “Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control” (Sanger-Katz, 2018). “The death toll [from opioids] is higher than the peak yearly death totals from HIV, car crashes, or gun deaths” (Sanger-Katz, 2018). Clearly, it is going to take a monumental effort by the medical community, public health agencies, and...

Read More...

Simple Solutions or Real Results

Submitted by Gerald Shulman on fri, 12/01/2018

In a previous column (April 2018), I wrote about the genesis of the opioid crisis. While possibly informative, it provided little information about potential solutions currently being offered and identifying those whose major effect is more to make people feel good about doing something, whether effective or not. One of the points I made in the column was that the genesis of the current opioid crisis and its solutions are multifactorial. However, we continue to look for simple solutions while...

Read More...

The Personal Journey of a Nonalcoholic through the AA Twelve Steps

Submitted by Gerald Shulman on fri, 10/01/2018

If you will indulge me, I would like to depart from my usual practice of writing about clinical issues and instead share the journey—mine—of a nonalcoholic within Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I began my career as a therapist in February of 1962, at a facility previously called Chit-Chat Farms and now called Caron Foundation, founded in 1958. Like other programs at that time, it would not be considered treatment by today’s standards—it provided no assessment, no treatment planning, and no...

Read More...

Simple Solutions or Real Results

Submitted by Gerald Shulman on fri, 12/01/2018

In a previous column (April 2018), I wrote about the genesis of the opioid crisis. While possibly informative, it provided little information about potential solutions currently being offered and identifying those whose major effect is more to make people feel good about doing something, whether effective or not. One of the points I made in the column was that the genesis of the current opioid crisis and its solutions are multifactorial. However, we continue to look for simple solutions while...

Read More...

Lessons Learned from Clients in Co-Occurring Recovery Groups

Submitted by Dennis C. Daley on fri, 12/01/2018

For many years I conducted early recovery groups as a guest presenter in multiple inpatient, residential, and/or ambulatory treatment programs for clients with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders (CODs). I also conducted recovery and/or focus groups at a therapeutic community program in the inner city, and for incarcerated adolescents or adults with CODs. I met regularly with clients to find out what their concerns were related to recovery from CODs, what they found helpful in...

Read More...

The Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh

Submitted by John Newport on fri, 12/01/2018

This column will attempt to illuminate practical applications of the teachings of my favorite mentor, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk whom in my opinion is the foremost contemporary proponent of application of basic Buddhist precepts in our daily lives. While Thay (as he is known by his followers) is a leading practitioner of Zen Buddhism, his approach to helping us enrich our lives and the lives of those around us is extremely inclusive. Indeed, his followers include countless numbers of...

Read More...

Is There an End in Sight for the “Golden Age” of Rogue Treatment Profiteers?

Submitted by Gary Seidler on fri, 10/01/2018

We are all familiar with the horrific stats: “Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control” (Sanger-Katz, 2018). “The death toll [from opioids] is higher than the peak yearly death totals from HIV, car crashes, or gun deaths” (Sanger-Katz, 2018). Clearly, it is going to take a monumental effort by the medical community, public health agencies, and...

Read More...

Simple Solutions or Real Results

Submitted by Gerald Shulman on fri, 12/01/2018

In a previous column (April 2018), I wrote about the genesis of the opioid crisis. While possibly informative, it provided little information about potential solutions currently being offered and identifying those whose major effect is more to make people feel good about doing something, whether effective or not. One of the points I made in the column was that the genesis of the current opioid crisis and its solutions are multifactorial. However, we continue to look for simple solutions while...

Read More...

Lessons Learned from Clients in Co-Occurring Recovery Groups

Submitted by Dennis C. Daley on fri, 12/01/2018

For many years I conducted early recovery groups as a guest presenter in multiple inpatient, residential, and/or ambulatory treatment programs for clients with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders (CODs). I also conducted recovery and/or focus groups at a therapeutic community program in the inner city, and for incarcerated adolescents or adults with CODs. I met regularly with clients to find out what their concerns were related to recovery from CODs, what they found helpful in...

Read More...

Passing the Bar: Mobilizing Lawyers to Create a Healthier Profession

Submitted by Bob Carlson on fri, 12/01/2018

Lawyers learn stress early. They stress through three years of law school, they stress preparing for and taking the bar exam, and they stress at highly competitive jobs in law firms, corporations, and government. Stress is often part of the legal profession’s culture. So perhaps it is no surprise that studies show a substantial proportion of lawyers and law students suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs), depression, and anxiety at far higher rates than the general public and even other...

Read More...

Current Issue

Continuing Education Quizzes

Upcoming UJST Conferences